Erik Lamela stepped out at the Stadio Olimpico for possibly the last time as a Roma player on Wednesday as his move to Tottenham Hotspur continues to gather momentum.
Contrary to earlier reports that Lamela, 21, was already heading to London, the forward and his entourage were in the Eternal City as Roma’s director of sport Walter Sabatini led negotiations over a transfer which, unlike the sale of Pablo Daniel Osvaldo to Southampton, will not receive the Giallorossi fans’ seal of approval.
On a day when there were more jeers than cheers reserved for the Roma squad as they took to the field for a training session in front of around 25,000 supporters, Lamela found himself belonging to the minority of players the fans did still want to see in a claret and yellow shirt.
“Keep your hands off Lamela,” read one of the banners held up by supporters, who manifested their continued pain after last May’s Coppa Italia defeat to city rivals Lazio by repeating that they are “only supporting the colours” and not so much the players.
“Everybody gets emotional about these colours,” club captain and fans’ favourite Francesco Totti said. “All we can do is thank the fans who have always stood by us and have shown once again today the love they have for this shirt.
“We’ll try to do all we can, giving our utmost to pay them back with results. The Roma fans know what they feel and I know what they feel.”
Lamela’s girlfriend, Sofia Herrero, was not quite sure what to feel about the situation, however. After seeing the warm reception the Argentina international was given, she wrote on Twitter, before swiftly removing: “What a farce.”
As well as many of the players, new coach Rudi Garcia was also blanked by fans still mourning the loss of last May’s most prestigious of derbies.
“26-05-2013 the real truth is that we hurt you,” said a banner flown by Lazio fans above the Olimpico.